Antique Safes/Barnes Safe
QUESTION: Mr Andy,
I bought this Barnes safe from a garage sale for $75.00. Story goes it was the guy's great grandfather's who died of a sudden heart attack and only he knew the combination, and hasn't been opened since he died. They could be feeding me a line of BS but who knows, figured it was worth my $75 to find out, plus I would like to keep the safe as I like this sort of stuff. It is closed and locked without a combination. I am from central Michigan, and was wondering what your advice would be to try to get this safe open without ruining it, or if it is even possible. It is a combination keyless safe. I would also like to know if you could try to give me an approx. date on it. I will give you the best description possible along with this photo. As you can see it say's "Barnes" on the top of the door. On the bottom it says "Pittsburg & Detroit". On the top left corner of the door there is artwork of what appears to be a picture of a sail boat. It says "Safe & Lock Co." about 3/4 way down the front door. On the top front of the safe it has the name "H. Hasse". Any help would be appreciated. Hope it is worth at least what I paid for it. Thank you for your time.
P.S. I emailed you privately before I saw the ask a question tab on the forum, realizing later I probably should have asked you on the forum first. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.
No problem, doesn't matter whether it comes through this forum or straight to me. The big difference is I answer this forum at home and can usually get to it at least once or twice each day. The emails come to me at work and depending on my schedule, it may be a several days before I can get to them.
As far as your safe - basic history for Barnes Safe & Lock. Originally established as "Burke & Barnes safe of Pittsburgh - started by Thomas Barnes a Blacksmith and his brother-in-law Edmund Burke who was listed as a locksmith, around 1845. Burke retired from the company in the early 1870's at which time Barnes introduced the new name. The Barnes Safe & Lock Company lasted until the 1920's.
The "H. Hasse" was probably an owner at some point, if not the original owner. You would have to do some research to find anything about this individual, but I would probably start looking in the area where you purchased the safe, or where the sellers indicated their grandfather lived. Search around that area looking through records from the 1870's thorough the 1920's - this will at least give you a starting point.
As far as the safe goes, generally Barnes used S&G type C62 or C66 locks. The C62 locks used 4 wheels and the C66 used 3 wheels. With the C62 locks you have a potential of 100,000,000 possible combinations.
Your options are basically to either try all of the possible combinations, which at 500 per day, will only take you about 540 years, or you can have a local safe technician open the safe for you.
NOTE: I NEVER recommend using locksmiths as they generally don't have the training, knowledge or tools to work on safes without causing excessive damage. You will need to contact a local safe company to have their trained safe tech open the safe for you. Cost should be in the $350 to $500 range, should NOT cause any damage or ruin the safe. While it may be necessary to drill a small hole to open the safe, the hole should be less than 1/4" and it should be easily repairable. If done correctly the dial, dial ring and lock should NOT have any damage. These parts are obsolete (over 100 years old) and extremely hard to find. A replacement lock could easily cost you $650 to $800 to replace.
If you don't have a local safe company, I will need to know where you are located (zipcode) to see who I know in your area. Safe technicians usually cover a fairly large area.
Once the safe is open, I would be happy to look at the safe to answer any questions, and/or to try to "age" the safe for you. In order to answer specific questions, identify, evaluate or appraise your safe, I'm going to need photos. They should include full exterior and interior. Detail photos should include pictures of the dial, handles, hinges, artwork, locks, bolt work, castors, cabinetry and any special details or damage. Note: You may have to remove the back panel on the door to gain access to the lock & bolt work – I will need these pics.
If you have a particular detail that you have a question about, I will need a photo of it along with your question.
I will also need to see any documentation that you have in regards to your safe. If your safe has a unique historical perspective, you should be able to document this with letters, newspaper articles or photos, if not it is simply a story and will have no bearing on the value of your safe.
Please use as high a resolution as possible so that I can examine details of your safe. Pictures which are low resolution, out of focus, or from a distance don’t help when we try to evaluate the container. Note: with higher resolution, you may only be able to send 2-4 pictures per email, depending on the size of the file, I have a 10mb limit per email. If photos are larger than 2mb each, you may only be able to send 2 or 3 photos per email, requiring several emails.
Please don’t send me “cell phone” photos. Also, please don’t use online, internet photo drops as most of these also don’t allow me to easily access the photos for examination. Send the pics directly to me, while this may be more work for you, it will make my job easier.
Please send all of the requested photos to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: As I am in the field several days each week, covering a huge service area, I may not get back to your photos immediately, but I will respond as soon as I get an opportunity. Due to field work, emails may tend to get backed up which means I may not answer them immediately.
Our informal evaluation is at no charge, however if you feel you need a formal evaluation or appraisal for insurance, estate sales, donations for tax write offs, or to establish it as an antique, there is an administrative fee for this service.
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QUESTION: My Zip code is 48706 (Bay City, MI) I have a local "locksmith" Company by the name of Hugo's, I have provided the link to their website: http://www.locksmithbaycity.com/
I know you said you never recommend locksmiths, but that is all I know in my area. If you know of any safe techs fairly close to me that info would be appreciated. If I do call this locksmith I will obviously make it clear I do not wish to ruin any part of this safe. If they cannot honor that, then I will continue looking elsewhere to get the safe unlocked. Thank you again for your time.
While most locksmiths usually stick to a fairly small area, maybe 20-25 miles, Safe technicians usually have a much larger area. I drove close to 400 miles today for the two safes that I had to open. So when you indicate "close to you", close is a relative term. For instance because my work is considered from "job to job", we don't calculate from the shop to the job, because if my first job is 100 miles from the shop and the next job is next door, I STILL have 100 miles to drive to get to the second job. Obviously if a smaller shop only gets a couple jobs each day, this makes a big difference, but my safe techs generally get 4 to 8 jobs ever day.
The nearest companies that I would recommend for you would be:
Lansing Safe & Lock about 70 miles
1421 Shaffer Ct
Lansing, MI 48917
Mark's Lock Shop, Inc. about 70 miles
2107 South Cedar Street
Lansing, MI 48910-3129
Nobel Lock & Safe about 80 miles
2670 Grace Road
Fort Gratiot, MI 48059
Metro/Anchor Safe about 90 miles
2627 E. 8 Mile Rd
Warren, MI 48091
If your locksmith can't open the safe without damaging it, you might try one of these.
NOTE: Drilling the safe IS an acceptable method of opening the safe, and the single, small (usually less than 1/4") hole is easily repaired. Having a safe tech in your area that is trained and proficient in manipulation may not be an option.
Hope this helps,